Back in 2007, I placed my name, my whole heart, my ideas and a bit of my ego on a public ballot for the first time, as a candidate for Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As far as vote tallies go, I predictably lost to the incumbent, but those 6 months of campaigning remain some of the best days of my life.

In the end, like so many things in life, my short term loss was replete with long term gain. I came out on the other side with more humility, more maturity, and even more love for (and faith in) the Cherokee Nation. Most importantly, I walked away with a host of life long friends and extended family.

Lynn McCulley was one of the blessings I received during that year. Lynn is a full-blood Cherokee, speaks the language, and she is a great mom and an even better grandmother. She works as a reporter and photographer for the Sequoyah County Times, the local print newspaper. She and her husband Edwin live in Sallisaw and her favorite pastime is being with her grandson Steeler, age 5 and watching OU sports. Like so many of us, she’s also a big support of all things related to Native American athletes.

How do I describe Lynn? She is tough as nails but warm hearted, hilarious, an excellent writer and . . . she’s been around the block when it comes to the fight against diabetes and the journey to take care of herself. I am glad she figured it, particularly so she can be around for all of us, but especially Steeler.

I happy to share my friend Lynn’s health journey, in her own words:

“When I think about health and what we put inside of our bodies, I think of dirt.

Growing up in a traditional Cherokee household, my grandfather, Robert Nofire, a full-blood Cherokee preacher and one of the wisest men I knew and loved, often told me when I was little that we were made of dirt. I would laugh and say, “I’m not!” He would just smile or laugh with me and give me that “oh yes you are” look.

But in 2006 after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I began studying a lot about foods, nutrition and health. Not only modern day ideas, opinions and attitudes, but some scriptures from the Bible as well and in Gods own words of what we should eat.

I had been involved in an accident and could not move for several weeks. At that point in time, I weighed about 180 pounds. I’m 5 ft. tall so the added weight and my height just made me feel round. After I was diagnosed, I decided to do something about getting my diabetes under control.

I read a lot of articles about diabetes and diet and decided to follow the instructions on how to get it under control. In three months, I went from a size 16 or 18 to a size 10. I went all the way down to a zero to size three but thought I had lost too much weight and presently I remain at about a size 7, 8 or 9 which doesn’t make me look anorexic.

Beyond the diet, I found myself wondering about vitamins and I don’t know about you, but vitamins were not something you would find in my grandparents’ home while growing up. When I was a teen, my mom tried to give me vitamins and the smell of them were enough to turn my stomach.

Looking back, I realized the foods my grandmother prepared for our meals were pretty nutritious. She cooked a lot of greens and seasonal plants as wild onions, beans and peas, corn or hominy, wishy or mushrooms, kanuchi, rabbits, squirrels, chicken and fish to name a few of the foods; eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and she did her own canning.

If I had continued to eat that way, I probably wouldn’t have had to worry about diabetes. Once finding out about causes and methods of controlling diabetes, it did not take me long to get it under control. In the past few years, I have learned to eat more protein, less carbs and exercise or in my case, do more walking or running.

As I’ve gotten older,  I went beyond controlling my diabetes. There’s a song I love by Bon Jovi which is one of my favorites entitled “It’s My Life” and the words include the chorus:

“It’s my life, it’s now or never.

I ain’t gonna live forever.

I just want to live while I’m alive.

It’s my life!”

Those are pretty much the words I live by when it comes to my health.  I just want to live while I’m alive. By that I mean, not having to deal with losing a limb or going blind or having to be on dialysis for the rest of my life. I want to be able to do the things I want to do and not have to deal with medical issues. Being diabetic, there’s always that chance.

I don’t have a problem with death because that’s the ultimate end of our walk here on earth. I do want to do things without having the obstacles of health-related problems so I can maintain my roles of being a wife, mom, grandmother and a reporter for the publication I work for.

Diabetes, when not controlled, can lead to other health issues such as organ failure and loss of limbs. No one wants to live like that. It can also cause blindness and yes, dialysis due to kidney or other organ problems.

For that reason, I rely a lot on vitamins. I also watch how many carbs Im eating. I eat a lot of salads, spinach more than lettuce because they contain nutrients. Lettuce doesn’t. I also eat a lot of fruits. My husband and I go on special shopping trips to the store just to buy nothing but fruits and veggies.

We both eat a lot of oranges, grapes, cucumbers and he loves avocados. I’m more partial to strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, pineapples and peaches, so I try to keep those things in the fridge depending on the season. He doesn’t eat much meat because he’s served in the military (another story) especially hamburger meat. I don’t eat much hamburger meat either unless it’s in spaghetti or sloppy joes or something saucy like that.

Every day before I leave for work, I take my vitamins. Vitamin C, D, Ginseng and collagen for my skin. I don’t take all of them at the same time. I alternate at times depending on how much time I have to spend on deciding what I need to be taking. Our bodies need certain minerals and we don’t always eat right so vitamins are the best way to make sure our bodies have the minerals needed to keep us healthy. We’re made of dirt, so we need minerals.

I’m not a big breakfast eater but we eat a lot of hot cereal such as oatmeal, Malt-O’meal, farina, rice or cold cereal. I usually grab a banana and a bottle of water when leaving for work, along with my coffee.

With the recent coronavirus storm, before the vaccine became available, I depended a lot on Vitamin D and C, Zinc and took Ginseng for overall health. I have had my vaccinations but I still try to take my vitamins.

I believe as long as you are eating right, watching your carbs and eating or drinking more protein, exercising, and other activities, you will reach and maintain your health goals.

Being made of dirt means certain ingredients are needed in our bodies to maintain our health and most of it comes from the minerals our bodies receive from food or helping that along with vitamins.


If a person is diabetic, they should eat something for breakfast such as oatmeal or toast, eat a snack a couple of hours later, eat a light lunch which may be a salad or a sandwich, eat a light snack a couple of hours later, eat a balanced meal for dinner and a light snack a couple of hours later and the metabolism will work better at helping you maintain a healthier diet. It sounds like a lot of eating but the best advice I can give is to not get hungry. You will maintain a more disciplined diet if you don’t get hungry.

God gave us instructions on what to eat and I believe in balance.

If we can learn to balance our diet along with activities that also provide physical and mental balance, I believe we can learn to live a more healthier lifestyle.

I hope this helps someone else who may be struggling with diabetes or problems with health from being overweight.

I’m not a dietician although I’ve conversed with many of them. I just believe in educating myself on one of the most important things in life and to me, that’s my health.

By the way, from all the reading and thinking about we should put in our bodies, one thing comes to mind, there isn’t much that mixes well with dirt, except for water, plants and minerals.”

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